Phil Jackson compared Shaquille O’Neal to Wilt Chamberlain Wednesday night. Phil coached Shaq in his days in Los Angeles, leading the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships. Phil also played against Chamberlain and sometimes drew the assignment of guarding him.
Phil made the comparison in Glendale at the Alex Theatre at his ” Live Talks Los Angeles” event according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Shaquille didn’t have quite the same athleticism that Wilt had,” Jackson said. “He had the bounce and he had the speed, but he didn’t have the endurance.”
In his latest book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” Phil made a lot of comparisons of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, but he also made comments to O’Neal that Chamberlain’s greatest accomplishment came in the 1961-62 season when he averaged 48.5 minutes a game. Phil challenged Shaq in their first season together in 1999-2000 to get into better shape and improve his endurance.
Jackson had this to say about how to defend Chamberlain, “one of the things we were taught, just get in Wilt’s path. He doesn’t like the offensive foul. If you take his shoulder and you fake an offensive foul, he really would stop being aggressive. That was the one thing that was kind of a limitation in Wilt’s game.”
Phil also said that Shaq was faster down the court, especially getting to the block whereas Chamberlain took a much slower path.
They both had moves that the other did not, according to Phil.
“Shaq had a jump hook whereas Wilt didn’t have a jump hook, he had an array of shots, he had a hook, a finger roll and a turnaround jump shot,” Chamberlain led the league in assists one year.”
While Phil compared Shaq and Wilt, he did say that they both shared the same flaw in their respected games – free throw shooting.
“Even then, at that time, you fouled Wilt if he was underneath the lane.”
No one really knows why Phil keeps on making these comparisons between some of the all-time greats, but one thing is for sure – even if Gregg Popovich and the Spurs win this season’s NBA Finals, there will not be a comparison of who is the greatest head coach in NBA history is.
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